Zenith continues to place its Defy collection on the cutting edge of high-end, serially produced horology with the addition of the Defy Classic Carbon, which finds the automatic Zenith Defy Classic cased in solid carbon fiber and connected to the wrist with a fully integrated carbon fiber bracelet.
The carbon fiber packaging means that the new model weighs a wispy sixty-five grams, about half the weight of an equivalent 41mm Defy Classic with a titanium case and bracelet. Like other Defy Classic models, Zenith fits the watch with its Elite skeletonized movement with a silicon escape wheel and lever.
While carbon fiber is not unheard of today as a case material in high-end watchmaking, the addition of a carbon fiber bracelet is rare and seen only on pricey, extremely limited editions such as Bulgari minute repeater or a Richard Mille offering.
Zenith explains that the new bracelet required new expertise at cutting, molding and milling the carbon fiber so that it highlights its layers, known technically as strata. The Le Locle watchmaker is touting this knowledge as another aspect of its ability to create serially produced watches infused with new materials (at least within watchmaking) and avant-garde techniques.
The lightness and the marbled, layered look of a carbon fiber bracelet looks unusual and feels unexpectedly light on the wrist, especially when it clasps a highly complicated automatic watch. While I haven’t worn the new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon, my experience briefly wearing Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon in 2018 was educational in this regard.
The material is warmer and almost friction-free on the skin, quite unlike the sensation when wearing a steel watch or a gold watch. As an added bonus, the layering of the carbon fiber within such construction results in a different visible pattern every time. As a result, each Zenith Defy Classic Carbon will exhibit a unique appearance.
Zenith also offers a black rubber strap with a carbon and titanium folding buckle for those who prefer a more familiar attachment to their watch. While the price difference between the rubber strap and the carbon fiber strap is high, only one model will suffice for those in search of the truly unusual, and potentially ground-breaking, with their haute horology.
The Zenith Defy Classic Carbon with carbon bracelet is price at $19,500. The model with the black rubber strap is priced at $11,600.
Specifications: Zenith Defy Classic Carbon
References: 10.9001.670/80.M9001 (carbon bracelet) and 10.9000.670/80.R795 (rubber bracelet)
Movement: Zenith Elite 670 SK, automatic, 28,800 VpH, 48-hour power reserve, special oscillating weight with satin-brushed finish.
Case: 41mm carbon with sapphire caseback, water resistant to 100 meters, 65-gram total weight (watch with carbon bracelet).
Dial and functions: Openworked with hours and minutes in the center, central seconds hand, date at 6 o’clock, hour-markers and hands ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C3.
Bracelet: Full carbon. Also available on rubber bracelet, with carbon folding buckle.